Know Your Lore: Khadgar, Archmage of the Kirin Tor

Anne Stickney
A. Stickney|01.20.14

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Know Your Lore: Khadgar, Archmage of the Kirin Tor
The World of Warcraft is an expansive universe. You're playing the game, you're fighting the bosses, you know the how -- but do you know the why? Each week, Matthew Rossi and Anne Stickney make sure you Know Your Lore by covering the history of the story behind World of Warcraft.

What do you do when your life is stripped away? Khadgar is an Archmage of the Kirin Tor -- one of the members of the Council of Six, and a powerful mage in his own right. Ancient and wizened, in his lifetime Khadgar has confronted the shadow of Sargeras, faced the orc legions that poured through the Dark Portal, seen Draenor shattered into a wasteland, and even confronted Deathwing himself and survived. And after all that was said and done, he was the first human to reach out and connect with the enigmatic naaru, bringing A'dal and his forces to Outland.

And he's done all of this by age forty-four.

Forty-four? Yes. There's much more to Khadgar than his appearance might suggest. Although his body may be ancient and wizened, there is nothing stopping what is still a fairly young and incredibly intelligent mind. But Khadgar may not be where he expected to be when, at age 17, he was asked to apprentice to the most unlikely tutor in the Eastern Kingdoms. His name was Medivh.

The sorcerer's apprentice

At age 17, Khadgar was merely a mage of the Kirin Tor sent on a mission to apprentice under Medivh, a powerful sorcerer who had inexplicably chosen to live in a tower in the middle of nowhere. Arriving at Karazhan, Khadgar had absolutely no idea what to expect. And after being greeted by Moroes, he soon learned that he was but one of a long string of apprentices sent to the master -- a long string of apprentices that all abruptly chose to leave a short time after they arrived.

Yet there was something about Khadgar that Medivh seemed to like. His name, according to Medivh, was the Dwarven word for trust -- and so Medivh decided perhaps he should trust the young lad, or at the very least put him to work straightening out the library. While Khadgar wasn't exactly impressed with his assignment, he found himself fascinated with Medivh. Although the man appeared to be absent-minded and old, there was something about him that suggested there was far more to be discovered. After all, the name Medivh, as the master himself pointed out, was Thalassian for "keeper of secrets."

And did Medivh ever have a lot of secrets he was keeping. Over the course of his stay, Khadgar began to slowly earn Medivh's trust. Despite the master's peculiar comings and goings, the enormity of the task of trying to organize Medivh's library, and the lack of any company other than Moroes and Cook, Khadgar stayed put. Not only did he stay put, but he tackled the library and managed to put in in some semblance of order. Impressed, Medivh began to take Khadgar along on various tasks. Peculiar tasks. Tasks that involved the Black Morass, and the strange, green-skinned invaders who had just begun to fight their way across the Eastern Kingdoms.


The secret of Medivh

All the while, Khadgar continued his studies, and eventually discovered what no one had told him before -- that Medivh was in fact not just some odd mage living in the middle of nowhere, but the Guardian of Tirisfal. This was shocking enough, but Medivh continued to be even more unconventional and strange, hosting a peculiar visitor, the half-orc Garona. While Khadgar initially thought very little of Garona, after speaking to her and getting to know her, he realized she was not like the barbaric orcs that she was currently acting on behalf of as a diplomat. She was much, much smarter than that.

But Khadgar began to sense that there was something wrong with Medivh. It wasn't blatant, but it was there -- something just under the surface, something that the master was hiding. And to Khadgar's horror, he finally discovered the truth. That his master, Guardian of Tirisfal, was responsible for bringing the orcish Horde to Azeroth. It was Medivh who had opened the Dark Portal, Medivh who had betrayed them all.

Khadgar fled with Garona to inform King Llane of Medivh's duplicity, and returned to Karazhan with Anduin Lothar and a group of soldiers, to put a stop to Medivh. When they returned, they discovered the situation even worse than they thought. Medivh hadn't gone inexplicably mad, he was possessed by the avatar of Sargeras himself. Garona and her skills as an assassin proved to be no match for Medivh's magic. As for Khadgar -- Khadgar made the unfortunate choice to try and cast a spell against his former master.

It didn't work. It only made the spirit of Sargeras angry. And Khadgar learned in an instant what it was like to earn Medivh's wrath. With one casually cast spell, he sucked the youth from Khadgar, aging him from 17 to an old man. Although Khadgar and Lothar managed to kill Medivh, Khadgar would never be able to reverse the spell that tore most of his life away in the blink of an eye.

The Dark Portal

Khadgar fled with the rest of Stormwind's survivors after the assassination of King Llane and the fall of the city, crossing the seas to Lordaeron with Lothar. Although the First War was lost, hope still remained in the form of the Alliance of Lordaeron, formed by King Terenas to combat the orcish armies as they slowly marched their way north. In the end, the Alliance was victorious, although Anduin Lothar was lost. And it was Khadgar who cast the spell to destroy the Dark Portal his master created, successfully ending the Second War and putting a stop to the Horde invasion.

Afterward, Khadgar oversaw the construction of Nethergarde Keep in the Blasted Lands. Late one night, Khadgar had a dream -- a dream that seemed to be a message from Grand Magus Antonidas. The Eye of Dalaran, a incredibly powerful artifact, had been stolen from the city for unknown purposes. Khadgar feared that the dream indicated the orcs would attack again, and he was right. The Dark Portal opened once more, and orcish strike forces poured through, intent on stealing a variety of powerful artifacts.

But before the second invasion could begin in earnest, Khadgar decided to strike first. He took a force through the portal to Draenor -- the Alliance Expedition. Together they discovered to their horror that the orc Ner'zhul was planning to open portals and lead assaults on not just Azeroth, but countless other worlds as well. And so the Expedition sought to retrieve the artifacts, and prevent Ner'zhul's plans from coming to fruition.


One of those artifacts, the Skull of Gul'dan, was with an incredibly unlikely source. While leading the Expedition to the Skull, Khadgar and the rest of the group encountered black drakes that were not only unusual to find in Draenor, they were definitely not native. The natives, on the other hand, were the gronn -- huge giants that were intent on destroying the drakes, and destroying the Expedition as well. With some quick thinking, Khadgar ordered the troops to open fire on the drakes, showing the gronn that they meant no harm. The leader of the gronn, Gruul, was still suspicious of Khadgar's motives, and offered to let him go if he did the gronn a favor -- kill Deathwing.

Khadgar realized that the Skull must be in Deathwing's possession. After the Expedition and the gronn destroyed countless black dragon eggs, Deathwing appeared, furious at his children's murder. The gronn, the Expedition, and the black dragons joined in battle, leaving Khadgar and Gruul to try and bring Deathwing down. Khadgar's magic may have been incredibly powerful, but it wasn't enough to even put a dent in Deathwing's hide.

However, the fact that Deathwing's hide was being held together by metal plates proved to be fortunate for Khadgar. Using one simple spell, he began not to attack Deathwing, but to pull the plates from his hide, one by one.

"No!" Deathwing, if such a thing were possible, looked utterly taken aback. He craned his neck to look at the damage, at the crunched, warped metal, the seeping magma, then turned glowing eyes on Khadgar. "You may have won this battle, I give you that. But hear this, and hear it well, I have seen you, mage."
Khadgar gulped, unable to tear his gaze away.
"I have burned your face into my memory," Deathwing continued, his voice reverberating along Khadgar's bones. "I will haunt your dreams and your waking moments alike. Rest assured, I will come for you, and when at last I do, you will beg me for your death as the only respite from your terror."

Khadgar never saw Deathwing again. Nor did he succeed in stopping Ner'zhul from opening portals all over Draenor. But he did succeed where it counted -- he closed the Dark Portal from Draenor as the world shattered, preventing the backlash from bursting through the Portal and harming Azeroth. Draenor was torn apart, and the survivors of the Alliance Expedition were stranded on its shattered remains.


In the years that followed, Khadgar and the remaining members of the Alliance Expedition did their best to simply continue surviving. But Khadgar sensed something dark was coming to the shattered remnants of Draenor. It wasn't yet another orcish uprising, this was something far worse -- the Burning Legion sought to claim Outland as its own. As his comrades fought to hold the line, Khadgar reached out in desperation, using his magic to call out to the Great Dark Beyond. To his surprise, he received an answer from a powerful being he'd never before imagined. Its name was A'dal.

It was Khadgar who convinced A'dal and the rest of the naaru to come to Outland. As the years passed, Khadgar became well acquainted with the naaru and their followers, the draenei. He even met Vindicator Maraad, who was none other than the uncle of Garona. From Shattrath, Khadgar had found what seemed to be his purpose at last -- to try, along with the naaru, to rally all those that had survived into an army capable of defeating the Burning Legion.

In later years, Khadgar discovered that the Dark Portal was re-opened, and that his long exile from Azeroth was over. He returned from time to time to assist with matters involving the Kirin Tor, and to serve on the Council of Six. It was Khadgar who more than likely convinced A'dal to send assistance to Theramore, and Khadgar who ultimately suggested that Jaina Proudmoore be given leadership of the organization upon Rhonin's demise.


What makes Khadgar so interesting isn't his unusual aging -- although there is much to be implied by Medivh's choice of curse. Medivh lost his adolescence in a coma when he came into his powers at fourteen and woke twenty years later at age thirty-four. Khadgar came to Medivh an apprentice of just seventeen, and left with the body of an old man. Medivh had his power thrust upon him by birth, Khadgar had his maturity thrust upon him by Medivh. There's a poetic, sad parallel between the two.

What makes Khadgar interesting is that despite his unnatural aging, despite the frailty of his body, despite the torturous spell that tore his youth from him, he never lost his mind. Instead, it only strengthened his resolve to see the Dark Portal brought to its knees. That resolve held even when the Portal re-opened. Khadgar wasn't about to flee when the orcs returned -- he strode right through the Portal and took the fight to the orcs instead. After that was said and done, after the Portal was destroyed and Azeroth safe and sound, he continued to watch over Outland and fight. This time, against the Burning Legion. Sargeras' Burning Legion.

Why does Khadgar continue to fight? Perhaps because he simply wants to protect the world. Perhaps because, in the moment he lost his youth, he looked into the eyes of Sargeras' avatar and saw in one horrified instant just what the Legion was capable of doing. Or perhaps because, in that moment, he saw the eyes of a man who had never been allowed to truly live. A man in the thrall of a monster through no fault of his own, chained to a dark destiny he never wanted to fulfill. A keeper of secrets.

And to this day, he fights for the sake of his master -- a man called Medivh.

Who knows what goes on in those youthful eyes, trapped in a body so old. But we'll see Khadgar again in Warlords of Draenor when the Dark Portal stirs once more, and the orcish legions of the Iron Horde prepare to strike.

While you don't need to have played the previous Warcraft games to enjoy World of Warcraft, a little history goes a long way toward making the game a lot more fun. Dig into even more of the lore and history behind the World of Warcraft in WoW Insider's Guide to Warcraft Lore.

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